With the slight easing of restrictions, we are now seeing how things might look going forward for the forklift industry and the many businesses that use forklifts to keep their businesses moving every day.
A lot of businesses who work in the supply chain and move essential goods have seen their work continue during this time to support and ensure that vital services, such as the NHS and other healthcare providers, food supply and waste collection, can continue at this time.
With more businesses now needing to get up and running again after the lockdown, it is important that we are still considering forklift safety and ensuring that forklift drivers continue to be fully trained, and fork trucks fully maintained.
With all of this in mind, it is good news that the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) has been included on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) list of trade bodies providing coronavirus-related support for their individual sectors.
Because there isn’t a specific category for materials handling, BITA’s listing can be found within the automotive section, alongside high profile trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
While BITA’s President Simon Barkworth appreciates Government recognition for the Association’s efforts, it was not the primary driver for the actions taken.
With the need to maintain an uninterrupted supply of essential goods vital to the nation’s wellbeing, he stresses that the role played by the materials handling sector in supporting this mustn’t be overlooked.
The BITA President underlines the importance of materials handling equipment (MHE) operating at peak efficiency. Without this, he warns that the logistics industry’s ability to fulfil its requirements will be jeopardised.
Working proactively, BITA began producing a library of fact sheets to ensure that anyone working in the materials handling industry can instantly check on what the latest safety requirements are and how these should be implemented.
At www.bita.org.uk, you’ll find a new Coronavirus section, containing a library of free Fact Sheets across a range of topics.
Working in partnership, the HSE, BITA and the FLTA have issued a joint statement which underlines the importance of ensuring Thorough Examination standards in the current climate.
Together, they have created a Fact Sheet on Thorough Examination which clarifies existing general HSE guidance, putting it into context specifically for the MHE and logistics industry.
For many employers, there have been concerns over Thorough Examinations as they require site visits by an accredited engineer. Some may assume that maintenance records will suffice, but the HSE is insistent that these crucial inspections are carried out on or before their due dates.
It’s a stance supported by the FLTA and BITA, the bodies behind CFTS, a national standard for the Thorough Examination of forklift trucks.
Guidance from the FLTA website (www.fork-truck.org.uk) is keen to remind employers that, as a result of keeping the supply chain uninterrupted, materials handling equipment is being used much more than it would have been.
According to the FLTA, this significantly increases the risk of catastrophic component failure. Equipment malfunctions may result in life-changing injuries, which must be avoided to remove unnecessary pressure from the NHS.
The FLTA is keen to remind employers that now, more than ever before, is the time to ensure every safety procedure is followed, with preventative measures kept in place.
If you are looking for support with your fleet, or need a new forklift now that you are up and running again then do get in touch and have a chat with our team.